The first lot of half a million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Thailand in two weeks, raising the question of how they will be allocated between the two buyers.
ZP Therapeutics Co, an affiliate of the distributor Zuellig Pharma, issued a statement on Saturday on the update. The first shipment of 560,000 doses would arrive “no later than 5th November”, read the statement.
This was the first time a specific date had been given regarding the long-awaited delivery. Previously, the company broadly estimated its deliveries by quarter.
The firm also confirmed a total of 1.9 million doses would be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year. Another 6.8 million doses would arrive in the first quarter of next year, it said.
US-based Moderna also said it had applied to register a US-based manufacturing facility with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration on 20th October to ensure uninterrupted deliveries of the vaccine to the country.
The news raised the question of how the first batch would be allocated to the two purchasers — private hospitals and the Thai Red Cross Society. Both placed their orders through the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) although the Red Cross is one of the few agencies authorised to buy the vaccine by itself.
The private hospitals took orders for the mRNA vaccine from people in June, charging them 3,300 baht for two doses.
Since the vaccine will come in batches, the Private Hospitals Association said earlier that it would allocate the quota it gets from each lot to member hospitals — 10,000 shots each for all 227 hospitals in the first round and then proportionally based on their demand in the second round.
It is then up to each hospital to decide which customers get vaccinated first, but most use the first-payee system.
According to Zuellig statements and publicly available reports, Thailand has to date placed five orders for the Moderna vaccine.
The first was by the GPO for 5 million doses. Of the total, 4 million were bought on behalf of the private hospitals and 1 million for the Red Cross. The GPO charged them 1,100 baht per dose for this order.
The Thai Red Cross Society said it would resell the vaccine to provincial organisations at cost (1,100 baht each) provided they administer them for free to vulnerable groups.
The second Moderna order was also placed by the GPO for 3.7 million doses on behalf of private hospitals. Not much detail is available for this order but it was believed to be for the second generation of the vaccine.
Of these two contracts, 1.9 million doses will gradually arrive by the end of this year. The remaining 6.8 million will be delivered by the end of the first quarter of next year.
The third contract for 1 million doses was placed directly by the Red Cross without going through the GPO. It cost 940 million baht and was paid for by the government’s central fund. Deliveries are to begin early next year.
The fourth contract for 8 million half-doses (50mg) was placed directly by the Chulabhorn Royal Academy for use as a booster shot. The academy does not sell them directly to the public but charges interested companies and organisations 555 baht each.